Rolling Through the Conversion Van Process
Contributed By: Jess Randall, Northwest Region Parent Support Navigator
Last fall, my son Isaac received his first power wheelchair. He has been working on his driving skills throughout the school year and is now able to independently maneuver the chair throughout the school. For a child with cerebral palsy that has difficulty with mobility, driving his power chair is a huge step toward independence. Although he has demonstrated his ability to drive his chair, we are unable to use his chair at home or out in the community due to one major barrier—lack of an accessible vehicle. Isaac’s power chair weighs nearly 300 pounds and I can not safely load it into our current vehicle. Recently, we started the process to purchase an accessible vehicle with assistance from his CADI waiver.
First, we discussed our need for an accessible vehicle during his annual waiver review. We discussed the situation with his county case manager who was very helpful in explaining what our next steps will be. In writing his CADI plan, we set aside $5,000 to go towards the cost of a vehicle conversion. The first $5,000 of the vehicle conversion costs comes from the waiver, and the county covering the balance. In my research I learned that the cost of a vehicle conversion can range from $15,000-25,000. Our CADI plan was approved and we were told we could proceed with the process.
Next, we obtained quotes on comparable vehicles from different dealers and submitted them to the county. I found that both companies we contacted were easy to work with and were very familiar with the process to purchase a vehicle with the assistance of CADI funds. The quotes were reviewed and the lowest quote was approved by the CADI team at the county level. Our county Case Manager contacted the salesman directly to let him know that we had been approved for the quoted conversion.
Lastly, we had to work out financing details for the vehicle. We had already decided what make of vehicle we wanted, type of ramp, and details of the conversion we needed. In the beginning the process seemed very complex and overwhelming. Fortunately, we were able to break things down into steps and got everything completed in just a few weeks’ time. We are very excited to have a vehicle that will accommodate Isaac’s power wheelchair and will allow for increased independence at home and in the community!